Introducing the 2023 MJ Bear Fellows

Honoring six stand-out journalists under age 30 who are pushing innovation in digital news

By on June 14, 2023

The Online News Association today announced the 2023 MJ Bear Fellows, digital journalists under age 30 whose innovative work represents the best of the industry.

The yearlong MJ Bear Fellowship is designed to provide support as early-career journalists work on an innovative digital project. Fellows benefit from guidance on a digital journalism project, networking within the industry, complimentary ONA membership for three years and opportunities to showcase their work to ONA’s global community. From Aug. 23–26, they will attend the 2023 Online News Association Conference (ONA23) to learn alongside peers and industry leaders focused on audience engagement, product and digital business strategy.

The 2023 MJ Bear Fellows are:

Laura Anaya-Morga, a general assignment reporter at the Long Beach Post working on relaunching the Spanish-language section of their website.
Ugur Dursun, a newsletter editor & impact manager at Bay City News creating a newsletter that highlights the journalists covering the Bay Area.
Bertin Huynh, a multimedia journalist at The Guardian Australia whose project revolves around making The Guardian’s reporting more accessible and digestible through video.

Maria Mendez, a service and engagement reporter at The Texas Tribune running a texting line to engage with their audience.

Blake Stoner, the founder & chief reporter of Vngle Grassroots News Agency, a visual content newswire that trains diverse constituencies on how to capture verified hyper-local insights to aid newsrooms in combating underrepresentation and misinformation.
Alice Wilder, a producer for the American Public Media Group publishing a newsletter for early-career audio journalists.

Honorable Mention

The selection committee decided to award an honorable mention to an applicant whose project and potential they felt very strongly about:

  • Katerina (Katia) Patin, Multimedia Editor, Coda Story

2023 Selection Committee

  • Laura Amico, MJ Bear Committee Chair, 2011 MJ Bear Fellow
  • Anand Katakam, Reuters, 2018 MJ Bear Fellow
  • Jake Carpenter, TellTail
  • Jody Brannon, Center for Journalism & Liberty
  • Denise Ajiri, Investigative/Data Journalist, 2012 MJ Bear Fellow
  • Amy Eisman, Director, Journalism Division, School of Communication, American University

The MJ Bear Fellowship is made possible through generous contributions by the MJ Bear Estate, friends of MJ Bear and ONA, MSN International and Microsoft.

Mary Jane “MJ” Bear, whose wide-ranging career took her to pivotal roles at Microsoft’s MSN Portals and MSN International, NPR and American University, was renowned for her kindness and digital know-how. She played a vital role in ONA’s history as a member of the original Board of Directors, helping to incorporate the organization in 1999 and serving on the Education, Fundraising, Conference and Legal Affairs committees until 2003.

The Online News Association was founded in 1999 as a forum for digital news pioneers to collaborate on common challenges and encourage the highest journalistic standards. Become an ONA member or make a donation to sustain our mission to inspire and support innovation and excellence in digital journalism.

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To explore partnerships, promotional opportunities and other ways to invest in ONA’s programs and events, contact Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer Jessica Strelitz at

Diana López

Diana López

Diana is responsible for coordinating programs, resources, volunteers and community initiatives at the Online News Association.